3 keys for Alex Verdugo to have a successful first year in pinstripes

2024 New York Yankees Spring Training
2024 New York Yankees Spring Training / New York Yankees/GettyImages

Who doesn’t enjoy being pleasantly surprised?

Most Yankees fans’ offseason attention has been placed on the acquisition of Juan Soto, but it’s worth wondering if Alex Verdugo could provide an unexpected jolt in the Bronx.

If the 27-year-old Arizona native has designs on making a major impact this season, there are three things that he has to bring to the table. 

3 differences Alex Verdugo can make in Yankees' 2024 lineup

Contact Hitting  

It could be argued that Verdugo’s ability to hit for contact is what initially drew general manager Brian Cashman to him. The lefty is a career .264 hitter, and is projected by Baseball Reference to hit .277 in 2024.

“I think there's more in there," Yankees manager Aaron Boone told ESPN in December. "I don't necessarily think he's reached his potential. So hopefully this environment for him and obviously entering the last year before free agency, there's a lot carrots out there."

 While it would be nice to have the former Red Sox find his power stroke and utilize the short porch in right field, he may not need to exercise such an ability while he’s surrounded by hitters like Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, and Soto. His main offensive concern should be getting on base by any means necessary.

Serviceable Defense 

According to Baseball Savant, Verdugo ranked in the 69th percentile in terms of outs above average (OAA) last season. He also placed in the 95th percentile in arm strength. Regardless of whether or not the former Red Sox is a defensive guru, it’s more important that he does not become a defensive liability.

 Some fans have questions about Soto’s defensive prowess, as well as where Judge will ultimately wind up in the field. For at least 2024, Verdugo could provide a stable defensive presence. In doing so, he could make the gritty plays that fans don’t necessarily want Judge or Soto making in the field.  


Verdugo was partially known for his showmanship in Boston. One could surmise that this was part of why the Yanks’ brass brought him to town, and Boone hinted at this possibility.

"I feel like there's an edge he plays the game with,” Boone said of Verdugo in December.

Similar to the initial concerns about the addition of Marcus Stroman, some may fear that Verdugo will offer “too much” personality. But, if he could bring the sort of swagger that Nick Swisher brought to the team in 2009, it could make a difference in the clubhouse. 

Of course, Judge is the team’s leader, but winning groups often have “spark plug” personalities that can rile up teammates and get the competitive juices flowing. Even if Verdugo’s numbers fall below lofty expectations, he could bring a useful mentality to the table, especially against foes like Boston, Houston, and Baltimore.